Do you know what I say to that? Hogwash! I’ve never really tried to wash a hog, but I imagine it is an unpleasant experience to say the least. I think playing video games can and do:
1. Reduce Cravings
2. Increase Physical Activity
3. Increase Cognitive Thinking
4. Enhance Social Connectivity
I know I am sounding like the video game weight loss guru, but just give me a moment to state my case and then you can verbally reduce me to the size of a single-celled organism. I am basing my study on my personal experience and common sense.
When I was younger I weighed significantly less than I do now. I know that our metabolism slows as we grow older but I think that is just a scientific way of saying we focus more on work and less on play. These days I spend my time working, taking care of my family, volunteering, and exercising sometimes. I am about a billion times busier now than I was then and my body is bloated and worn out. When I was in my teens and twenties I invested much of my time into that ill fated addiction known as gaming. I was 30-40 lbs lighter despite the fact I spent so much time rotting my brain and being idle. This was before Wii or Kinect was even conceived. I was in great shape and always full of energy. I was physically active, but I am still physically active. Here is what I think made the difference.
1. Video gamers rarely take breaks. When someone is playing a video game they don’t have time to stop and fix a snack, much less eat it. When you watch TV you want to be doing something so you grab the popcorn or chips and feast away. You don’t have this freedom with a video game – you are fully engaged so you just skip snacks and breakfast, lunch and dinner. You are too focused to worry yourself with minor things like sustenance.
2. Even before Wii or Kinect ever existed, playing video games was a full body activity for me. Just sitting in a chair and punching buttons wasn’t enough. I had to feel like I was in the game and would stand and move along with my character. With the new gaming systems, this is required so they contribute to physical activity, even on a cold winter day.
3. Many games are designed to engage your brain. You are required to make split second decisions, memorize maps, learn codes and train yourself to stay focused. Books are always considered productive because you are increasing your knowledge. I am an author and I love reading so I agree with this. What is crazy, however, is the opposite is often said of video games. They are considered to drain your brain and turn you into some type of slobbering vegetable. They do, in fact, cause you to use your brain and encourage learning. Video games just engage a different part of your brain, much like a crossword puzzle or Sudoku.
4. Finally, games can be social. We often picture a gamer as a loner locked in his bedroom staring at the computer for hours on end. This is true to some degree, but video games are just as much a social connectivity tool as they are a crutch for loners. Facebook is praised for its social connectivity, but people were already connecting through online games when it came about. Call us geeks or nerds, but video games are a social event for those of us who play them. People often will get together and play multiplayer games, hold LAN parties, play online games, or just hang out and take turns playing a game together. Once again when you add in the Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect or PS Move, you take social gaming to a new level. People can hold dance contests, play tennis or volleyball, race, or even box. Gaming is a social activity.
This winter, don’t put on extra pounds eating your great aunt’s overcooked fruitcake, play video games instead.